House of Locks

Architecture in Jebel Harim

An interesting feature of Jebel Harim is the type of local stone-built house known as bait al qifl or ‘house of locks’. So called on account of their elaborate locking mechanisms, the homes (traditionally left empty during summer months) are built low to the ground, and the floor is excavated to about 1m below the door, with beds and an eating area raised on platforms. There's a good example in the middle of Rawdah Bowl, near the road and a grave site.

Furniture and vital earthenware water jars are often placed inside a house of locks just before the roof is added, ensuring that no one makes off with the contents during summer migration. Some of the rocks used in these buildings are 1m thick and take six to eight men to lift. The roof is made of tree trunks and insulated against the heat and cold by mud.